Changes Down Under
In the news you might have missed over the Thanksgiving weekend, Labor Party leader Kevin Rudd decisively defeated Prime Minister John Howard in an important Australian election. Howard has long been one of the strongest supporters of President Bush's policies. Rudd, on the other hand, has already made it clear that he has different priorities. In his first news conference, he committed to making climate change a priority, promising to sign the Kyoto Protocol. Rudd also announced he will withdraw Australia's troops from Iraq.
But deeper than specific issues are the principles that guide Kevin Rudd's politics. On my most recent trip to Australia, I had dinner and a long conversation with Rudd, in which I learned he is a committed Catholic Christian in a secular country and a longtime friend of Sojourners. We discussed at some length how to apply Catholic social teaching to public policy. We had a subsequent conversation in Washington, D.C., on faith and politics; and in the fall of 2006, he wrote an essay, titled "Faith in Politics," for an Australian magazine, The Monthly. He began by saying,
[Dietrich] Bonhoeffer is, without doubt, the man I admire most in the history of the twentieth century.